Anthony's Film Review

Aliens (1986)

The sequel to Alien continues the thrills of the original...

The 1979 sci-fi flick Alien was such a good experience for movie fans that a sequel would certainly be a welcome thing. That sequel would come to fruition seven years later with the 1986 follow-up Aliens. One notable change is the director. Whereas Ridley Scott handled the original Alien, director James Cameron, who had previously directed The Terminator in 1984, took over the role for Aliens. Fortunately, this is not a bad thing at all. Cameron is just as great of a director as Scott. In fact, as I will explain, Aliens feels enough like Alien that one might mistakenly think that Ridley Scott, not James Cameron, is the director for Aliens.

The plot of Aliens continues where Alien left off. Following the events of the last film, Ellen Ripley (played by Sigourney Weaver) is floating through space in a small vessel under cryogenic hibernation. After fifty-seven years, she is discovered by a salvage crew. While she still remembers the preceding events involving an alien on her ship that killed all of the crew except her, others find the story hard to believe. That's because the planet where the alien was from is now colonized, made possible by terraformers. But as we soon see, a colonist family on that planet decides to go exploring and discover the crashed spaceship that contains the alien eggs. Pretty soon, all communication with the colony is lost.

Hence, a team of soldiers is sent to the planet along with Ripley as an advisor, given her first-hand knowledge of how the alien creature functions. The team immediately discovers that the colony is abandoned. Slowly, they search the buildings and begin to see signs of deliberate damage. Eventually, they come across something very strange: a room that is covered with organic matter, practically turning it into a cave. They proceed to investigate, and that's when they are in for a terrible shock: the place is a breeding ground for the alien. Not one, but lots of them.

Aliens does have some improvements over Alien, namely the greater number of creatures (hence, the extra "s" in the title), the presence of action (making this movie more action-adventure than horror), the presence of a little girl whose family got killed by the aliens, and the appearance of the alien queen that lays many eggs. Still, after watching this movie for a while, I came to realize that Aliens otherwise follows the formula of Alien. It develops the plot slowly in the beginning and really starts to get good about one hour into it. There is one shocking visual of an alien bursting through its human host, killing it. Heck, even the climax is similar in the two movies, because there is a countdown to a nuclear blast, a frantic scramble to get out alive, a final battle just when it looks like the crisis is over, and a resolution involving an airlock and cryogenic hibernation. Through it all, Ripley is as tough as she was in the previous movie.

As a result, I am rating Aliens the same as Alien: an 8 out of 10. It has enough new stuff to make it a worthy sequel, which is what any good sequel should do, but it often feels like a repeat of the first movie. Otherwise, I still managed to find it heart-pounding, suspenseful, and thrilling. Overall, James Cameron does a great job filling in Ridley Scott's shoes, and Sigourney Weaver kicks butt as Ellen Ripley. This is an entertaining movie for anyone who enjoyed Alien and wants another dose of sci-fi thrills with Ripley in the lead role.

Anthony's Rating:

For more information about Aliens, visit the Internet Movie Database.


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